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Summertime blues are here early

Larkspur. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Three clematis and larkspur are showing their summer blues.

I don’t know how many years I sowed seed for annual blue larkspur (Consolida ajacis), but I could never get it going. Then, one year, a glorious stand of ferny foliage and blue spikes appeared. Ever since, the larkspur has self-sown its way into a larger patch and in a few other places. At about 3 feet tall, larkspur provides seasonal height in the garden and is perfect for fresh-cut bouquets.

Two new and one standby clematises are blooming, all a bit early. ‘Jackmanii’ has been climbing a wrought iron structure on my porch in morning sun since the early 1990s. It has large, star-like purple flowers all along its 6-foot length. If this beauty has a drawback, it’s that it gets clematis wilt, a fungus disease that shows up just as the plant is in its full glory.

Sapphire Indigo clematis. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

The large-flowering clematis varieties are the most susceptible to this problem. The fungus resides in the soil and when summer temperatures heat up and the humidity rises, the disease shows up.

First, the vine looks wilted, then the leaves and stem turn brown. Cut out any diseased stems below the soil line. The Missouri Botanical Garden recommends spraying remaining stems and the surrounding soil with a protective fungicide, such as myclobutanil. The ingredient is used in organic farming, but remember that fungicides are deadly to bees, so always read and follow the label directions.

Rooguchi clematis. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

‘Rooguchi’ clematis has been around for a while, but it’s new for me. I planted it last year and this year, it is beautiful. This one has large, blue, bell-shaped flowers on vines about 6 feet tall. I have it growing up an obelisk in full sun. It blooms all summer and does not get clematis wilt.

Sapphire Indigo clematis only gets about 3 feet tall is loaded with flowers the color of the plant’s name. This summer-long bloomer has flowers are about 3 inches wide with curved petals. This is not really a climbing clematis, but more of a trailing type. However, mine trained nicely on a 3-foot tall obelisk in a perennial bed that gets morning sun. Sapphire Indigo was planted last summer and it is in full bloom. This clematis is said to have good disease resistance.

 

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